Utility Boxes as Art

life

We’ve all driven around and seen the green utility boxes by the side of the road. Some cities have programs for artists to paint the boxes. They do this to beautify the city but also to help prevent graffiti. Some of these boxes look better than others. But I was awestruck at the latest form of art I spotted on the utility boxes. Photography!

Lee Sie Photography creates photographic designs that are used as wraps for utility boxes. The photos used in the wraps are of nature, or outdoor scenes that would blend in with the surroundings. They can be found throughout San Diego in such places as Solana Beach. I like the look of them compared to that of some of the painted boxes because they have a clean, professional look. The first one I saw, I was like, “wow” that looks like a photograph, which is exactly what it was. Take a look…

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Crested Ducks

life

My children and I always enjoyed seeing the same two ducks at the lake. We could spot them a mile away due to the pouf of feathers on top of their heads. Were they just having a bad feather day every day? No, they were born like that. They are what is known as crested ducks.

Crested Duck

In crested ducks, the crested gene is a genetic defect. According to backyardchickens.com, the crest (or what I call the pouf) is actually fatty tissue covering a gap in the skull. Oh my! Breeding crested ducks is considered cruel by many as the chance is greater that the chicks will die in the shell due to this genetic defect. If bred, the chicks have a better chance at survival if one parent does not have the defect.

I never knew this before. Sometimes it is worth the while to look up things one is curious about. It could lead to a new appreciation or understanding of a subject. Defect and all, these crested ducks will always have a place in my heart.

Baby Bluebirds Have Arrived

gardening

It is mid July and we have spotted our first glimpse of our newest baby bluebird. The parents have been nesting for a while so we have been waiting for this day. Now that the day has come we could not be more thrilled!

Baby Bluebird

We have had baby Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) now for the past few years. Ever since my husband made and gifted me a bluebird house, the birds have come to make their nest and raise their babies. Both the male and female bird help to prepare the nest and take care of the young.

Daddy Bluebird
Mommy Bluebird in Action

It is such a treat to watch the activities of this newly formed family. The parents are very attentive to their babies and can be seen flying to and from the nest throughout the day with food for their young. Welcome Bluebird family!

Visiting Joshua Tree

Travel

Somehow, when picturing Joshua Tree National Park, I always thought of one lone Joshua tree. After all, if there were a lot of trees the tree would be plural, right? Oh how wrong I was. Joshua Tree National Park has more than one tree and is a vast desert.

One thing that overtook me about Joshua Tree (roughly 45 miles from Palm Springs, California) was how large it was. It seemed the desert could go on forever. It is actually made up of two deserts coming together to form the park. Below 3000 feet makes up the Colorado Desert or Eastern part of the park. The higher elevation makes up the Mojave Desert where the Joshua trees can be seen.

Skull Rock

When planning a trip to Joshua Tree, keep in mind the temperatures. We took our trip in December, which was a perfect time to go for pleasant hiking. Temperatures are in the 60’s Fahrenheit in December, dipping down cooler at night to somewhere in the 30’s. Spring is the most popular time of year at Joshua Tree due to the desert flowers in bloom. Summer would be the least desirable time to visit as it is a desert and the temperatures can get to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a bit warm to be hiking.

Joshua Tree has a lot of hiking trails and is a beautiful place to visit. At night the stars are plainly visible without any light pollution. If you want to see the stars at night pack a jacket, as it does get cold at night. There is nowhere to purchase food in the park, so pack a picnic and plenty of water. Be sure to pack a camera to capture this remarkable park. Happy Traveling!

The Beautiful Rotary Botanical Gardens

Travel

The Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful gardens I have visited. Full of interesting plants, colorful flowers, and fun sculptures, it is well worth the trip. Let me give you a tour…

kaleidoscope to view flowers – so cool!

The Rotary Botanical Gardens is developed into 26 garden spaces on over 20 acres of land. Some of my favorite garden spaces are the French Formal Rose Garden, the Sunken Garden, the Shade Garden, and the Japanese Garden. I also was delighted by the interactive kaleidoscope sculpture that allows you to look at flower petals through a kaleidoscope.

A view of the Japanese Garden

I went in the summer, however, the Gardens would be wonderful to see in other seasons as well. The plants are changed out for different seasons so there is always something new to see. Along with different seasons come different hours of operation. Be sure to check the hours and days they are open before making your trip.

The Gardens are a photographer’s dream. Tons of beautiful flowers, interesting backdrops, sculptures, and insects make it well worth the trip. Charge your batteries before going and be sure to allow time to take in the gardens. There are plenty of benches throughout the garden to sit and enjoy nature or to take a break.

The admission to The Rotary Botanical Gardens is reasonable and they have events and classes throughout the year , so be sure to check-out their calendar. One can also have meetings or weddings held at the Gardens. How nice that would be! On the way out, do not forget to stop in the gift shop. A nice selection of garden merchandise is available for purchase.

So, if you like gardens and find yourself in Wisconsin, be sure to stop by Janesville and enjoy an afternoon at the Rotary Botanical Gardens. You can bring a lunch and have an enjoyable meal on their terrace. Remember to stop and smell the roses.

Where the Buffalo Roam

Travel

Hoping to see buffalo on your trip to Yellowstone National Park? You need not worry. I would say it would be difficult not to see buffalo at Yellowstone National Park.

Buffalo tend to roam the park in herds, however, can be found in smaller groups or even solo. Of the three days in the park, we saw buffalo every day. We visited Yellowstone at the end of June and there were a lot of baby buffalo. These little guys were a lighter caramel color and resembled baby cows. Terribly cute!

When visiting Yellowstone, allow extra time to get around the park. Why? Traffic jams occur, of which we were part of on more than one occasion. These traffic jams can cause cars to back-up for over an hour for sure. What causes these traffic jams? Animal sightings by people wanting to snap a photo and buffalo crossing the roads or standing in the road.

The really long traffic jams are most likely due to buffalo crossing the roads. Be especially carefully of the baby buffalo when they are walking along the road. They obviously do not have as much experience at crossing roads and while they tend to stick pretty close to their mother, will run a bit more sporadically into traffic.

We spotted one buffalo on his journey swimming across a body of water. He then approached two other buffalo and kicked up some dirt and made some vocals to the other buffalo. They eventually all settled down and seemed cordial to each other. Very interesting to see.

Buffalo are a huge animal. They are also a wild animal. Having said that, when you are in the park, be sure to give them their distance for a safe viewing experience. Enjoy nature at it’s best in Yellowstone National Park!

Visiting the Popular John Moulton Barn

Travel

Anyone enjoying photography may be familiar with the sight of the John Moulton Barn, one of the most photographed barns around. This barn is located in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. There you will find it nestled with the mountains for it’s backdrop. The perfect setting for an absolutely beautiful photograph.

The barn is part of what is called Mormon Row. Mormons established this farming community near the turn of the 19th century. Here they shared the farm labor with their community. The Mormons dug ditches to irrigate their crops. Today, Mormon Row is part of the Grand Teton National Park.

Visitors from all over the world come to see and photograph this barn and the other buildings on the property. There is a small lot for parking your vehicle. Watch your step when walking around the buildings as there are some pretty large holes you will want to avoid. The holes were made by the current residents of the property, the Prairie Dog. You will see many of these little guys scurrying about.

Take some time to picture life without electricity at this beautiful Wyoming homestead. Have camera in hand and hope for beautiful skies. Venture further into the park and perhaps be lucky enough to see a moose as we did. Happy travels!